Red Sox Bench Is Speed-Free For 2010

2004DaveRoberts2004.jpg

Quick, what was the critical turning point of the 2004 championship season? That’s right,Dave Roberts coming off the bench to steal the biggest base in team history. What a luxury Terry Francona had to pull a guy out of the late October cold and set him loose on the base-paths with the utmost confidence that he would succeed. After the steal, Derek Jeter famously asked Roberts, “How do you sit in this cold for nine innings and come out here and do that?”. Roberts just smiled.

Fast forward to 2010. As the Globe’s Peter Abraham points out, Tito will not exactly have a ‘Roberts Option’ this year on the pine.  Mike Lowell,Jason VaritekBill Hall and Jeremy Hermida are the speedsters he can choose from in key base-stealing situations. Does the phrase “piano on his back” ring a bell? All together, this group has stolen 113 career bases. In his stellar career, Roberts swiped 243–including 49 at age 34 for the Padres.

So, come October, if we find ourselves behind three games to none; down a run in the ninth; and in need of an alacrity injection, who comes into the game? Thank God for expanded rosters in September! Until then, close your eyes and hope Varitek doesn’t pull something on the way to second.

1 Comment

The Sox will be one of the fastest, if not the fastest, team in Major League Baseball this year. You’re correct that there’s no “Roberts Option” (like the phrase) this year, but with so much speed in the starting lineup, Tito doesn’t need one. Ellsbury could swipe 70 again, and Cameron, Pedroia, Scutaro and Beltre are all capable of double-digit steals. With 5 bona fide base stealers in the starting lineup, pinch running shouldn’t be a big concern. Besides, Hall would be a pretty sizable upgrade over guys like Ortiz and V-Mart on the basepaths, so their bench isn’t entirely devoid of speed (at least compared to the guys you’d want to be pinch running for). For Francona and Epstein, the bigger concern should be (and has been) power off the bench, which they appear to have with Lowell and Hermida.

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